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Wood Burning and Air Quality Rules

Wood burning rules and how to burn wood safely.

During the fall and winter, Washington County sees a rise in pollution caused by wood burning. Pollution from wood smoke can pose serious health impacts. In addition, if we don’t meet federal air quality standards, large businesses in the county can face restrictions and limits on growth and operations.

How to Reduce Wood Smoke

Heat your home with cleaner heat sources like an electric or ductless heat pump, gas stove or insert, gas furnace, or pellet stove or insert. Visit the Wood Stove Exchange program for more information on trading in an old wood stove.

Burn only dry split and well-seasoned wood. For more tips on burning cleaner, visit the EPA’s burn-wise program.

If You Burn Wood

Bookmark this page to check air quality status November 1 through March 1 before you burn, or call the Air Quality Status Line at 503-846-8744.

Sign up for Public Alerts to receive a text, email or phone call when a “red day alert” is issued for poor air quality. Be sure to select "Red Day Alerts" under Additional Notifications when you sign up.

Follow Washington County Health and Human Services and Washington County, Oregon on social media channels, and watch local news media.

Air Quality Rules

From November 1 to March 1, Washington County monitors air quality and may issue air quality alerts that apply to anyone who lives in unincorporated Washington County. The cities of Hillsboro and Cornelius have adopted similar ordinances, so the following color-coded system applies to those residents as well.

A red day alert means that air quality is unhealthy and that no fireplace or wood stove use is allowed, unless exempt (see below).

A yellow day means air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups and we ask that people consider their neighbors before burning.

A green day means that air quality is good and no restrictions are in place.

Exemptions to Burning Restrictions

  • Households that rely on wood burning as their only source of heat.
  • Households that qualify as low-income (see Q&A document below).
  • When there is an interruption in utility service (electricity or natural gas).
  • When a household's primary heating system is temporarily not working (no more than 120 days).
  • The ordinance does not restrict the use of pellet stoves.
  • The ordinance does not restrict burning between March 2 and October 31.

In addition, outdoor burning of yard debris is prohibited year-round in unincorporated areas of Washington County that are also within the Metropolitan Service District Boundary.

Wood Burning Complaints

You can file a complaint for residential burning of yard debris or the use of a fireplace, wood stove or wood stove insert during a “red day alert” issued by the county. 


Health and Human Services

155 N First Avenue, Suite 170
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124
Wednesday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm